Mother of Dead J&K Militant Booked Under UAPA for ‘Arranging Arms’

For the Sheikh family of Rampur, the idea of militancy proverbially runs in the blood.

4 min read
Akhtar has been arrested for “recruiting 2 militants, arranging arms, ammunition and logistics” for them.

The mother of a militant, who was killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir two years back, has been booked by the Jammu and Kashmir Police under the anti-terror legislation – Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Naseema Akhtar, a resident of Rampur in the Qaimoh area of Kulgam district, whose son Tauseef Sheikh was killed by forces along with a university professor-turned-militant in 2018, has been arrested for “recruiting two militants” and “arranging arms and ammunition, communication and logistics” for them.

“The arrested person is involved in a serious criminal case. The photo of the arrested woman in which she is toting an automatic weapon and posing next to her son... speaks it all.”
J&K Police statement
Akhtar has been arrested for “recruiting 2 militants, arranging arms, ammunition and logistics” for them.
Akhtar has been arrested for “recruiting 2 militants, arranging arms, ammunition and logistics” for them.
(Photo: Jehangir Ali)

The statement added that “Just because she happens to be a woman or the mother of a killed terrorist, it does not make her immune to arrest. It is the prime duty of the police to arrest criminals to safeguard the people it serves and that is what it has done. Anyone who wishes to challenge the decision is free to approach the court of law for redressal.”

According to the officials and human rights groups, this is perhaps for the first time in recent memory that the mother of a dead militant has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Last year, a woman was arrested in north Kashmir’s Handwara district, while allegedly pasting ‘secessionist’ posters in the area and charged with the controversial law. In 2017, Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi and her associates were also booked under the anti-terror legislation.

The Operation Began at 3 am

Rafiqa Bano, sister of the arrested woman, and also her neighbour, said a search operation was carried out by the army and police on Thursday night in their village in south Kashmir.

“There was a cordon at around 3 am. They searched houses but only their (Naseema’s) belongings were thrown out. The villagers were asked to gather at one place. While passing along their house, we could hear her screams,” Rafiqa said.

She added that Akhtar’s daughter Insha Jan and daughter-in-law were also crying for help. “They were shouting, ‘please save us,’” she said, adding that Naseema’s husband works as a daily wage labourer while her son Farooq Sheikh is also in jail.

“Insha’s arm was injured during the assault. While the others were released from the police station later in the day, Naseema was kept there. She has a heart condition, she had fallen ill in custody and was taken to a hospital by police,” Rafiqa said.

In a statement, the police said it is on the lookout for Insha Jan, who has also been booked in the same 2018 case as her mother, under Sections 13B, 17, 18, 18 B, 19, 30 of UAPA.

“The arrest was done in compliance of provisions of law and she has been under legally sanctioned custody in women police station Anantnag ever since her arrest. The police are looking for her daughter too,” the statement said.

A Long History of Militancy

For the Sheikh family of Rampur, who have linkages with the banned outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, the idea of militancy proverbially runs in the blood. When insurgency broke out in Kashmir, Ibrahim Sheikh, a brother of Naseema, was among the first ones to pick up the gun.

“He was a commander in Hizbul Mujahideen. When he got married in late nineties, it is part of a fable that 50 militants were part of his baraat. He remained active for some six to seven years before getting killed.”  
Naseema Akhtar’s neighbour 

After his death, the widow of Ibrahim married his brother, Ashraf Sheikh, who was also working as an overground worker for militants. Sources said Ashraf joined in 2009 when militancy was at its lowest ebb in Kulgam, but he was killed the same year.

“Though partially disabled, their third brother, Abbas Sheikh, joined militancy in 2014. He is still at large while another brother Ilyas Sheikh, is under detention in a jail outside Kashmir,” sources said, adding their fifth brother remains in and out of jail.

Among the two sisters, Rafiqa’s son Tajamul Sheikh is also under detention since 2018. The son of Ibrahim, Salman Sheikh, was released recently after two years in a Jammu jail. “Their aged uncle is affiliated with Jamaat and he is also under detention,” sources said.

“Two maternal uncles of Tauseef are also active militants. If we count their family, more than one and half dozen of their members involved in militancy have been killed,” sources added.

“About ten of our family members are in different jails including outside Kashmir,” Rafiqa said.

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